A few people have recently written that the Square Wheels One image is a negative view of how organizations really work and that it portrays the leadership in a negative way. And they seem to say that my haiku posts are also somewhat negative about how things work, too.
I guess that this reinforces my key concept that it is all about perspective — the fact that people see things differently and only through discussion can then better understand each other. That this perfectly illustrates the power of the tool is actually most wonderful. It generates different perceptions about things and allows for discussion!
As a “possibilities sorter” and a “future-focused sorter” of information and a performance improvement consultant starting back in 1978, I would simply suggest that my purpose of using the Square Wheels cartoons (back in 1993) was much more about looking for ideas for improvement than a focus on any negatives. What we do can always be improved.
The basic cartoon that started this all was framed up like this:
and we asked, “How might this illustration represent how organizations really work?
We then allow people to talk about what they see and that is projective, it works much like an inkblot or Rorschach Test where people look at an image and then share their thoughts about what it represents. These are “projective instruments” in that people project their perceptions and beliefs onto the tool. And the use of the cartoon helps us get LOTS of ideas. What also happens is that the general thinking about the cartoon often becomes attached to how they see their organizations. They see real issues and opportunities in their own workplaces.
(you can see a post about just how many ideas result from such brainstorming and open discussion by clicking on this link and going to another post.)
Sometimes, if they are management, they see themselves in the front. More often, they feel that they are pushing someone else’s wagon, based on their responses. They also think that the ideas for improvement already exist but that communications between front and back are tough to accomplish.
Negative? Well, maybe.
Maybe if the phrase,
“continuous continuous improvement”
is negative… I personally think it represents possibilities.
I do frame things up with poetry and similar, sometimes taking managers to task for not fixing things that need fixing, those improvements that would make things better for all those involved… I see organizations doing more to generate intrinsic motivation and engagement.
I think all we are doing through the illustration is anchoring to the existing reality and with the hopes that things can improve, be that about systems and processes, ideas for improvement, leadership involvement, communications or some other aspect of people and performance.
We sell tools for involving, engaging and motivating people and for leading all sorts of organizational involvement initiatives.
Have FUN out there, for sure!
Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.